Amman: Can We Make it Better?!

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Mon 21 August / Aug 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

The board of the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) is now fully assembled, with the Mayor assigned and 9 members present, representing respective official bodies and the Amman society.

The newly assigned mayor, Yousef Shawarbeh, has an extensive experience with the Municipality.

He once was the deputy of Aqel Beltaji, and an elected member of the GAM board. He also presided over the temporary committee prior to the elections.

Notably, there is nothing fundamentally distinct about this elected board.

The only exceptional aspect of it is the return of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Municipality of the city which, itself, is facing exceptional challenges and conditions.

Amman; this overly crowded and expansive city requires an innovated, entrepreneurial mind-set in management.

As clean and organised as Amman is, compared to other Arab cities and capitals, it is on verge of losing all of its virtues.

The city is no longer kind to its residents.

Disorganisation, lousy traffic, crowded streets; all of this is making the life of Ammanis uncomfortable, hectic, and difficult.

Its streets lack creativity, and so does its planning.

Not to mention that there are barely any greenspaces anywhere you go; the construction sector is galloping after real-estate and commercial constructions.

So bad it has become that is turning into a concrete jungle, with no place for the pedestrians to walk.

More so, the city is losing its identity in its chase to keep up with the world’s massive capitals.

In the meantime, construction violations are spreading, infrastructures are deteriorating, and building quality is dropping, phenomenally.

Less than a month into the restoration of a street in Amman, and it is filled with holes.

This is beside the speedbumps, which now are characteristic of Jordanian streets.

In just a few years, if cars keep flowing into Amman, the capital will change into a humongous parking lot.

People will not find a place to park their cars.

Hopefully, the public transportation sector and the promise of the rapid bus project can make a difference in the quality and coverage of the service. But that just isn’t enough.

The Capital needs a transportation revolution, entailing exceptional measures to lighten up traffic, develop the sector, and control various city violations.

Seasonal campaigns no longer suffice.

A sustainable, continuous mechanism must be devised to restore law to the streets and parking lots.

Meanwhile, the standing resort to building bridges and tunnels hasn’t helped much.

The Nahda Circle, as important a project as it is, has redirected all the traffic to the 8th Circle, and the same goes for Sweileh.

It doesn’t hurt the Municipality to import foreign expertise to help reorganise traffic intersections and lights, to make people’s lives easier a bit. Some innovative solutions could help, significantly, ease the suffocation of traffic congestions.

More so, it may even help reorganise residential building and constructions, to give houses more privacy.

Out on the streets, the things you see in Amman, the way people drive for instance, are unlike the phenomena in any other capital or major city in the world!

We must address these peculiarities, and I am trying to be polite, to restore some order of sophistication and bring this historic city to life again.

The city is starting to look like slums in other notorious cities around the world.

In the years past, various Municipality decisions have led to extremely catastrophic results.

Look at the Madina Circle, or Abdoun, and other areas with malls erect in already crowded neighbourhoods!

The Municipality issued licences to build these commercial malls, without sufficient and organised parking spaces and facilities.

Many of these areas are now drowned in endless traffic!

The commercial complex licencing regulation needs to be reviewed, to avoid repeating such catastrophes in whatever other areas which remain “mall-less”.

GAM should adopt more advanced licencing and organisation mechanisms, like those applied in the modern and advanced cities of the world. Malls there are not allowed to be built by the roads.

There too, licences for malls require a massive vastness dedicated to car parks, far from the main road, somewhat.

Westwards, Amman is maxed out and can no longer expand.

Eastwards, however, there is plenty of unexploited potential, and we should think about attracting resources and demographic there.

The point is that there is an abundance of heavy and difficult challenges.

Facing up to these challenges requires no less able and innovative leadership and management skills; an open mind which does not succumb to extortion.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.